I find it intriguing that the majority of artists ever speaking about shows are always uber positive, especially when behind the scenes they aren't particularly happy. This illusion damages the psyche of anyone with a different experience. Its easy to think you are the only one when no one else is speaking their truth. Their whole truth and not the glossy best show ever response we have all so carefully cultivated. I'm not the type of individual to shy away from the truth, especially when it can help another artist or person.
Quite simply MegaCon Orlando hurt my heart so much when I was there, I never want to go back. I'll tell you they why's and the hows and what I will do to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Firstly, let me say it was a 16 hour drive each way for me plus a 4+ hour setup before a 4 day show. I was already pushing the limits of exhaustion when the show began. Having us open 2 hours early daily for a handful of VIP's was basically a waste of time and many vendors were displeased with a number of decisions the management made.
That wasn't what bothered me. I am sad to say it was the attendees that did me in. While I did meet a number of beautiful, vibrant and supportive people it was ENTIRELY blighted by rude, combative individuals who just stripped a little piece of me away every time they told me my stuff was crap. They would snap photos of prints over and over and over and then proudly tell me now they didn't have to buy a print. One said "Now I can just print this out at home." Again and again and again day after day. "You will get exposure on my Insta.." " Oh I could buy this toy cheaper at Walmart" (no you can't I'm not in Walmart and have ZERO plans to be) "You hid the cheap toys on purpose to make more money" (nope the little guys get stolen like crazy so we put them up high)
Again and again like an ocean stripping sand from the beach and at the end I was left bereft, empty and wondering if I should EVER do a show again if this is the new normal. These things happen at every show mind you and this isn't my first rodeo. But the SHEER number day after day was so discouraging I asked Johnnie what is the point anymore? Is this where all of this is headed?
So we won't be returning to Orlando again for that show and we are seriously examining any show from this point forward. I've always had two types of shows: Giving shows and Taking shows. The giving shows fill me up and I come home inspired and SO excited about my work and my business. The taking shows leave me exhausted, bruised and wanting to take a few days off. I think at this point in my career its only giving shows from this point out. For my health and for the best use of my time thats all we are going to do. I'm very fortunate my biggest show is a giving show and I am really looking forward to San Diego Comic Con.
I love my fans wherever they are, I want to make beautiful things for you, I want to spark joy for you but I can't do that with a broken heart. So I'm going to do this for me so I can be the BEST possible artist for you.
Thank you to all the slivers of kindness at Orlando, to those who gave it. It literally kept me from crying every single day. I thought all these years of experience would make me immune to being ground down but I was really mistaken. So if you are an artist who is discouraged right now, especially after that show. Know you aren't alone. Its not just you. I've done hundreds of these things at this point and it was a first and hopefully the VERY last.
I will close by saying the attendees were exposed to a number of unpleasant experiences before they even got to me, leaving the vendors with an even harder job to do. Charging a super high parking rate with no in out privileges, CHARGING 5.00 for a LANYARD for badges they bought, not providing maps or any information was just the tip of the iceberg. That would leave anyone unhappy and collectively the show failed us all.
Thank you for listening,